The Great American Reach Around - Headin' South & Australia and New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand. The most multi-cultural city in this small multi-island nation and also home to the most hated people in the country. The rationality behind such malice can only be placed at the feet of 'Tall Poppy' syndrome; all things are bigger and better in Auckland - it is an arrogant city in the very sense of the word.
As citizens of Auckland, we enjoy access to pretty much everything the rest of the country has to offer, some maybe slightly artificial and others slightly polluted, but never the less the opportunities are there.
Because of its water-locked state you can travel east, west or north and find beaches to enjoy or an artificial ski slope that appears to be stored in a mountain-sized fridge. Like the rest of the country it also has a lot of bush - great for walking, or filming B-Grade Greek mythological stories that somehow end up as hit TV shows in America. Despite all that is great about Auckland, it also suffers from growing pains; poor decision making by politicians has led to backward development in many areas, most notably public transport.
The city is often described as a large urban sprawl, one of the lowest density cities in the world and proud of its high air pollution due to everyone driving everywhere. If you want an idea of what it's like to live and travel here; I play ice hockey - if I have a game at one of the two rinks in Auckland that is not near me, it's a 45 minute drive from where I live. This is considered average travel time in most cases compared to some of the more newly developed areas.
Auckland holds the prestigious title of having the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world, while also having substantial Chinese, Korean, Indian and South African communities. This means a lot of ethnic cuisine, home-grown rap music, good rugby players and the distinct impression that you are no longer in an English speaking nation most of the time.
Aucklanders are also fond of drama; if there is nothing terribly important in the news, they will make it so. An example of this was a month long debate about where to build a rugby stadium for the 2011 Rugby World Cup - complete with backstabbing and scandalous emails.
New Zealand has a relationship with America that could be best described as 'that guy you work with but don't actually hang out with outside of work'. Because of our nuclear free policy we aren't exactly chummy with America like our larger neighbours are. A lot of resentment comes in the form of a dislike for America's foreign policy, especially when criticized for not sending troops to Iraq. But other than that Aucklanders view America as they feel towards most thing - apathetic and ambivalent.
I hope you have enjoyed this installment of the Great American Reach Around. Our journey South will continue in the next edition. If you have any complaints or comments you can always send me a message. I promise you, I read them all!